“-I didn’t root for the super posse. I rooted for Butch and Sundance.”
“-Well of course you did, we all did, but that’s not who we are anymore”
Showtime is a network that has dramas that are clustered with blurred moral lines. Whether it’s a shameless family, a CIA agent in love with a terrorist, or a torrid affair that turns deadly personal; these dramas are sustained by intrigue and ethical ambiguity. All of the series’ plots are ingrained by controversial factors and laced by designed harbingers of personal disaster. Showtime’s new series “Billions” utilizes this formula to create a poignant show of igniting suspense centered on a topic not often displayed in many scripted shows, the financial world. When Chuck Rhoades’ character, a U.S. Attorney played by famed actor Paul Giamatti, recites the last line of the above quote to his subordinate, a tension filled question of conscious is revealed to each viewer. The show’s protagonist is billionaire Bobby Axelrod. He’s played by Showtime recurring actor Damien Lewis. In the preliminary episode, the audience is made aware that his hedge fund, Axe Capital relies heavily on illegal transactions. The lines are set. There is a criminal and hero. And yet, the viewers can’t help but root for the megamenus bandit.
Axelrod, better known as “Axe”, is self-made. His financial success was built by his sharp intelligence, his work ethic, and is insatiable ego. Axelrod is beloved by the public because he arose from the ashes of a blue-collard upbringing. He brandishes his wealth with a likeable audacity that is both daring and alluring. His public admiration has shielded him from communal scrutiny and Rhoades’. Rhoades is concise. He selects all his economic crime cases with care. He only engages in trials of certainty. Once he makes a decision to prosecute, his will and fervor are unrelenting and never compromised. Both men are ambitious and career driven. With one man fishing for offenders, and the other being a financial shark, it was only a matter of time before their two lives intersected. However, the casting net is muddled with complications and confusions.
Chuck Rhoades’ wife Wendy, played by actress Maggie Siff, works for Axelrod. She serves as the company’s therapist and is dazzlingly good at her job. She loves her husband and her work. The shared history between Axelrod and she has not been fully revealed, but it’s completely obvious that she’s heavily invested in both the man and the corporation. The two men in her life are easing into a full blown war with each other. She pledges allegiance to her strong marriage and is committed to her longstanding alliance with Axelrod. With the addition of Axelrod’s crafty and forceful wife Lara, played by Malin Akerman, this complex foursome sets the stage for a show driving towards personal and professional combustion. It will be up to the television audience to decide, as the show’s plotlines untether, whether they’re rooting for the pillar of justice or the savvy outlaw.
Catch “Billions” on Showtime Sundays at 9PM EST.